AFP, Kabul : Afghanistan’s new cricket academy coach, Peter Anderson from Australia, has started work in Kabul, officials said Monday, as the fast-developing team prepare for their debut at next year’s World Cup. Anderson coached Papua New Guinea for two years before joining Afghanistan, where cricket is a rare symbol of optimism in a country beset by war, corruption and poverty. “I am excited to be here,” Anderson, 52, said in a press release from the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB). “I hope I can make a contribution to the quality of cricket here. I will start slowly, watching, listening and learning.” Anderson played 56 first-class matches for Queensland and South Australia as a wicketkeeper, scoring 1,399 runs at an average of 17.93. “We are pleased to be welcoming a person of Peter Anderson’s calibre to head our new Afghanistan Cricket Academy,” said Noor Mohammad Murad, head of the ACB. “He brings to us 35 years of cricketing experience both in Australia and internationally. His experience with Papua New Guinea Cricket, a developing cricket country, will fit him well for his work in Afghanistan.” Anderson will head the new academy, which will seek out and train players from youth level through to the full national squad. Afghanistan’s cricket team have taken big strides over the last decade, gaining one-day status in 2009. The side have featured in three World Twenty20 tournaments and qualified for the 2015 one-day World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. The International Cricket Council has given $1 million funding to each of four World Cup qualifiers-Afghanistan, United Arab Emirates, Ireland and Scotland-and has arranged training camps in Australia and New Zealand later this year. Afghanistan are in Group A along with Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Bangladesh, England and Sri Lanka. Afghanistan will also feature in this year’s Asian Games cricket tournament in Incheon, South Korea.